Pick of the Week ♦ Thursday, November 20th 

Tyondai Braxton

Tyondai Braxton

The Brooklyn-based Braxton is a guitarist, vocalist and composer who uses loops to build meditative solo pieces with a lot of emotional power. He’s also the son of Anthony Braxton, one of the greatest composers, saxophonists and theorists of the last several decades, but it turns out that isn’t a particularly useful reference point for Tyondai’s music. Where the father’s work has a reputation for being cold (not really deserved) and overly intellectualized, the younger Braxton’s music is unquestionably direct, even ecstatic. He lays down simple phrases and bits of sound on guitar and voice, loops and processes them on the fly and lets them slowly build in thickness and intensity. In particular, his vocal lines take on a strong emotional charge. Some of the songs have lyrics, which can be as minimal as a single phrase integrated into the musical texture; in others, the voice is used wordlessly. Braxton is appearing on a bill with Parts & Labor, a trio with electronics as the lead voice and tightly constructed instrumental compositions built on angular repetitive figures. The two acts have just released a split CD Rise, Rise, Rise on Narnack Records. Springwater

—David Maddox


Thursday, 20th-Friday, 21st

Funk’s Last Stand—An Evening w/The Bar-Kays The current, revamped version of the Bar-Kays is fronted by their first vocalist, Larry Dodson, who joined when the group turned to P-Funk-style psychedelic grooves in the early ’70s, and founding bassist James Alexander, who began in the mid ’60s when the band were being groomed by Stax Records as the successors to Booker T & The MG’s. After the loss of all but two original members in the 1967 plane crash that killed Otis Redding, the reassembled Bar-Kays were steadily resilient in responding to the major currents of party funk through the mid-’80s. Their touring lineup faithfully return to the old-school, freaky sound that came out of Sly Stone and George Clinton and continued through Cameo and the Gap Band. The Bar-Kays’ most vital contributions to the heyday of funk were singles like “Holy Ghost” and “Move Your Boogie Body,” on which Alexander’s growling bass grooves anchor spanking, scratchy guitar riffs, icy synth lines, full-frontal horn charts and urgent, yowling vocals. Though never rising above their brother funksters, the Bar-Kays were always ready with a sharp reply to the dominant trends and led the way to Rick James’ streetwise punk-funk as well as the early Prince, who copped some of their best licks for his visions of the apocalypse. B.B. King’s

—Bill Levine

Kent Finley’s Marathon Writer’s Night Benefit As owner of the renowned Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, Texas, singer-songwriter Finley has given a hand to many luminaries of Americana music while they were on their way up. He’s known coast to coast as an indefatigable champion of the Texas troubadour tradition, but his hospitality has always extended to Nashvillians as well. They’ll return the favor at this two-day benefit, a show of support for Finley’s costly battle with bone cancer. Performers include Walt Wilkins, Davis Raines, Michael Kelsh, Billy Montana, Jenai, Austin Cunningham and many more. Keep an eye out for Jim Reilley, formerly of the acclaimed folk-rock act the New Dylans, whose album The Return of Buddy Cruel has drawn strong notices. Thursday night is all bands, Friday all singer-songwriters. Tax-free contributions may be made to the Kent Finley Medical Assistance Fund Account #150625 c/o Chere Garza, Assistant Branch Manager, Austin Area Teachers Federal Credit Union, P.O. Box 14867, Austin, TX 78761. Douglas Corner

—Jim Ridley

Friday, 21st

Fisk Jubilee Singers Choral and spiritual singing has been the hallmark of the exuberant, technically magnificent Fisk Jubilee Singers since their inception in the 19th century. Although they are an a cappella ensemble, their style puts more of a premium on exacting interaction and unison performance, rather than the more improvisational, freewheeling mode of gospel singing popularized during the quartet era. It is a rare occasion when the voice of a Jubilee Singer wavers off pitch or falters holding a note. Nevertheless, there’s no loss of emotion or power in their performances, and their renditions of spirituals are far more moving than those of most contemporary gospel choirs, who utilize far more voices, yet can’t sustain as much authority or excitement. Current leader Paul T. Kwame, himself a former Jubilee member, spearheads the group on their 2003 release, In Bright Mansions, which includes soothing traditional pieces like “There Is a Balm in Gilead” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” as well as looser numbers like “De Gospel Train,” “Rockin’ Jerusalem” and “Wade in the Water.” There aren’t many active groups who are truly institutions, and even fewer whose current outings are still reflective of that greatness. The current edition of the Fisk Jubilee Singers aren’t coasting on the laurels of their predecessors, but rather are capable of greatness every time they appear. 5 p.m., Cokesbury Bookstore, 301 Eighth Ave. S.

—Ron Wynn

Brother Henry As a sought-after sideman and pop producer, David Henry has often received less attention for his own music than for what he’s brought to other artists, whether creating sonic landscapes for Josh Rouse and Guster or lending support on cello to the Cowboy Junkies. So fans of those acts—and The Proclaimers, The Delevantes and other effervescent latter-day sibling teams—should check out the sweet, sprightly pop of Brother Henry, which features Henry and his identical twin brother Ned. Their new CD Come On, People embosses sunny ’60s folk-pop with unobtrusive studio craft that shimmers and simmers, without the sugar crash that accompanies something like The Thorns. While David readies new records by David Mead and Vienna Teng, the group take time out for a CD release party with drummer Park Ellis and bassist Jeff Henry—yes, another brother. “There’ll be a lot of Brother Henry at this show,” David deadpans. The Basement

—Jim Ridley

Friday, 21st-Saturday, 22nd

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver Selections from their last album, The Hard Game of Love, netted Lawson & Quicksilver two International Bluegrass Music Association awards in October and helped earn them their third consecutive honor for Vocal Group of the Year. The album’s successor, the newly released Thank God, is just as good, and maybe even a little better. The all-gospel collection takes country and bluegrass gems from a half-century ago and polishes them to a radiant glow with impeccable musicianship and awe-inspiring vocals. Jamie Dailey and Barry Scott have been with the group for a while now, and their soaring voices make for the most powerful one-two punch in the business. Banjo man Terry Baucom, whose pace-setting work with the original Quicksilver of two decades ago influenced a generation of players, has returned, bringing a strong right hand and stout bass voice, while J.W. Stockman and Jess Barry bring youthful energy and precision to their twin fiddle roles. With Lawson’s inventive mandolin leading the way, it’s a powerful instrumental ensemble, but the group’s singing is at an even higher level, investing each song with the complementary virtues of finely wrought detail and gripping emotion. Their appearances during the Grand Ole Opry’s stint at the Ryman ought to be especially satisfying, for Lawson first heard several of the songs on Thank God performed on that stage by some of the music’s greats; like them, he and Quicksilver will no doubt make the rafters ring. Ryman Auditorium

—Jon Weisberger

Sunday, 23rd

Michelle Shocked Shocked opens her most recent album, Deep Natural, with a song appropriately titled “Joy.” A self-described “knee-jerk anarchist,” the East Texas native has always channeled her angry, anti-establishment attitude into joyous, life-affirming music. Deep Natural continues her musical travels, this time working New Orleans brass bands, gospel choirs and Jamaican dub into her swinging, effervescent folk-rock. Her voice remains clear, grounded and delightfully sunny, and she maintains her knack for catchy melodies. The most memorable songs in her catalog are her most personal—a travelogue of a bike ride across Los Angeles, a conversation with an old friend who’s become a housewife in Anchorage. And for all her polemic posturing offstage, onstage she’s engaging, funny and full of quirky, personable charm. 3rd & Lindsley

—Michael McCall

Wednesday, 26th

Yonder Mountain String Band “If you want to be a real stickler, bluegrass is the music of Bill Monroe—or artists trying to approximate that sound,” says Ben Kaufmann, the bass player for Yonder Mountain. If that seems a little rigid, it’s only out of a respectful awareness of history. Recognizing their hybrid nature, YMSB use traditional bluegrass instrumentation—banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar and standup bass—as a starting point. Though they often adhere to compact, traditionalist song structures, they also devote large portions of their live sets to improv, which accounts for their growing popularity among jamband audiences. Nevertheless, their latest album, Old Hands, reveals their more traditional inclinations. A nod not only to the roots of the music itself, but to the way of life from which it sprang, the record consists entirely of songs written by underground Colorado songwriter (and 30-year meat industry veteran) Benny “Burle” Galloway, with the band backing and trading lead vocals with him. The Trap

—Saby Reyes-Kulkarni

Food for a Song From cattle calls at the Bluebird to catcalls in some desolate hotel lounge, the life of a singer-songwriter in Nashville has few rewards. Thus this pre-Thanksgiving get-together, an outgrowth of the annual Songwriters Festival at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, seems especially sweet. Starving artists can literally sing for their supper at this combination writer’s night and holiday turkey feast, hosted by a songwriter with the seasonally appropriate name Popcorn. What’s more, there’s no admission except for a song. It starts at 7 p.m., but previous events have lasted into the wee wee hours: Balance out those tryptophans with strong coffee if you plan on performing late. Call 868-2147 for more info, or get directions from popcornsongs@aol.com. StarLite Dine & Dance Club, 3976 Dickerson Pike

—Jim Ridley


Pagliacci (The Clowns) For the first time, Nashville Opera Association will produce Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, a beloved work from the verismo (“true to life”) opera movement, which relates the dark tale of a carnival clown grappling with betrayal. Lilting choral music and stirring arias are the hallmark of this cleverly plotted and tempestuous work, which will be under the direction of NOA artistic director John Hoomes. Goodlettsville resident Clifton Forbis sings the lead role of Canio. The Nashville Symphony provides the accompaniment. Performed at TPAC’s Polk Theater, Nov. 21, 23 and 25. Phone 255-ARTS or visit www.nashvilleopera.org; see the story on p. 33.

—Martin Brady


Sesame Street Live Presents 1-2-3...Imagine! This live stage show—fully sanctioned, endorsed and approved by the powers-that-be at the long-running PBS institution—brings oversized Sesame Street puppets onstage to sing happy songs and teach positive lessons about people and the world around us. Live human actors are also a part of the production, which is written, arranged, choreographed and directed by veteran theater and television professionals. The eight performances with Big Bird, Elmo, Ernie, Bert et al. are Nov. 20-23 at the Gaylord Entertainment Center. For information, phone 770-2040.

—Martin Brady

The 1940s Radio Hour Boiler Room Theatre resurrects this charming behind-the-scenes look at a New York City radio broadcast that takes place during Christmastime 1942. Colorful characters, a holiday theme, and some classic Tin Pan Alley songs combine to make for well-rounded family entertainment. Laura Green directs the cast, including Jack E. Chambers, Corrie Miller, Marc Mazzone and Lauri Bright. Performances are Nov. 21-Dec. 21. Phone 794-7744 for tickets, scheduling and information on dinner-and-show packages.

—Martin Brady

A Night in November Actors Bridge Ensemble’s artistic director Bill Feehely stars in Marie Jones’ one-man play in which an Irishman charts the journey of his self-discovery. Stephen Innocenzi directs. The show runs this week only, through Nov. 23, at the Darkhorse Theater. Call for reservations at 341-0300, or e-mail actorsbridgetix@comcast.net. See the story on p. 54.

—Martin Brady


“Small Packages 9”/ Cumberland Gallery Cumberland Gallery opens its pre-holiday gift-buying showcase this Saturday night. According to manager Janice Pollard, this is one of the gallery’s most popular events, continuing in its ninth year. More than 50 artists, both local and national, are represented in this show with over 300 works to choose from. The title “Small Packages” describes the criteria for each piece, as all images are no larger than 15 inches by 15 inches in size. This is in an effort to keep all the prices in an affordable (?) range, between $100 to $4,000 each. All media are represented, from Kurt Meer’s haunting landscapes in oil to Ann Wells’ ceramic organic “pods.” Cumberland Gallery has created a favorable mix with the return of such artists as Jeff Danley, Marilyn Murphy and Ron Porter and the addition of new innovative works, such as Mark Hosford’s surreal illustrations and miniature paper boat constructions by Christine Hagedorn. Be the first to get your Christmas digs in at the opening, 6-8 p.m. Nov. 22. The show continues for your shopping pleasures until Dec. 24.

—Julie Roberts


Eclipsed Chapters of the Crescent & the Cross The latest work from visionary choreographer Abdel Salaam, this dance-and-education program uses African, modern and classical forms to explore the commonalities and differences between Islam and Christianity. Since its inception in 1981, Salaam’s acclaimed, New York City-based Forces of Nature Dance Theater has incorporated diverse styles of dance in an entertainment/educational model that sheds light on the intersection of cultures across time periods. Following the group’s performance, Richard McGregor, assistant professor of religious studies at Vanderbilt, will join Salaam in discussion. McGregor’s academic interests include contemporary Islam’s responses to the effects of modernity. The presentation is part of TPAC’s “Insideout of the Lunchbox” series, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 20 at War Memorial Auditorium, Seventh Avenue North and Union Street. For reservations, call 322-8585 or e-mail tpac@vanderbilt.edu.

—Paul Griffith


A Closer Walk As the AIDS crisis decimates Africa, the message of Robert Bilheimer’s documentary could hardly be more urgent. The Oscar nominee documents the spread of AIDS around the world, examining its impact from the U.S. to Uganda. Narrated by Glenn Close and Will Smith, the film receives a free screening 7 p.m. Thursday at Vanderbilt’s Sarratt Cinema. Vanderbilt student Jennifer Eaton, the national faith outreach coordinator for DATA (the AIDS/debt-relief lobbying organization founded by U2’s Bono), and Global Health Council grassroots coordinator Josh Lozman will lead a discussion following the screening.

—Jim Ridley

Mostly Martha/”Meet and Three” Ever seen a lavishly spread table or sumptuous meal in a movie, and suddenly noticed you were ready to beat down someone for his pack of Twizzlers? The Belcourt exploits the kinship of eye and stomach with a clever membership event this Saturday featuring three food-related movies and catered goodies. The main course, at 6:30 p.m., is Fried Green Tomatoes—we presume the entrée will not be wifebeater—and a mystery film at 11 p.m. closes the evening. However, the 9 p.m. dessert course may be the most substantial: the delightful German film Mostly Martha, in which a harried chef learns to savor the company of an orphaned child and an Italian cook. Tickets for the event are $19.25 or free with a Belcourt membership purchase. For more info, call 846-3150.

—Jim Ridley

Shattered Glass If nothing else, this smoothly crafted thriller vindicates Hayden Christiansen, the much-maligned Darth Vader of the last Star Wars movie. After seeing his chilling performance here, it’s more likely that George Lucas just can’t remember how to direct actors. Christiansen is perfectly puppyish and pathological as Stephen Glass, the New Republic scribe who built a career on brilliant—and blatantly fake—feature stories until his pack of lies collapsed. With excellent performances by Peter Sarsgaard and Chloe Sevigny, the movie opens Friday at Green Hills; see the review on p. 61.

—Jim Ridley

The Human Stain Half of the stunt casting in this faintly absurd Philip Roth adaptation consists of Anthony Hopkins essaying the role of a Jewish professor who, it turns out, is secretly a light-skinned black man. And no, it’s not a slapstick comedy. But the other half of the stunt casting—the half involving Nicole Kidman playing a bitter college janitor—is, well, pretty damn inspired, benefiting not only from her newfound ease in an unglamorous part, but also from her very gorgeousness. For the first time, this actress’s beauty has been turned into a dramatic asset for its unkemptness, like a hint of the glow before the burnout. If, like me, you’ve always given Kidman the benefit of the doubt but found last year’s accolades for her turn in The Hours premature, know that the moment has finally arrived. The film opens Friday at Green Hills.

—Joshua Rothkopf

Gothika Halle Berry, having undergone post-Oscars surgery for removal of Adrian Brody’s tongue, finds new horrors as a psychiatrist suddenly housed as a patient in her own creepy asylum. Robert Downey Jr. and Penelope Cruz break out the white coats in this chiller from French actor-director Mathieu Kassovitz (Amelie). Also opening Friday: Mike Myers as The Cat in the Hat.

—Jim Ridley

Pieces of April Peter Hedges, the What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? novelist and About a Boy screenwriter, makes his directing debut with this warm Thanksgiving comedy-drama about a girl’s misbegotten attempt to cook for her out-of-town family. Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson and Oliver Platt star; the movie opens Friday at Green Hills.

—Jim Ridley


Once Upon a Time in the West “Looks like we’re shy one horse,” snickers one of three hired killers ambushing lone gunman Charles Bronson at a desolate train station. Bronson doesn’t flinch: “You brought two too many.” Barring a miracle, we’ll never get to see Sergio Leone’s 1968 masterpiece again in all its widescreen glory. But this long-awaited two-disc DVD edition has its compensations: a reportedly stunning new transfer, appraisals from directors John Carpenter and Alex Cox, and interviews with some of the movie’s principals (including filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci—who concocted the sprawling story, believe it or not, with Leone and horror maestro Dario Argento). A must-have for Western devotees, it arrives in stores this week.

—Jim Ridley


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